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Govt claims second, third tier leadership of Taliban eliminated
The government on Tuesday told the National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence that security forces had achieved "major successes" in the ongoing military operation in Swat and Malakand, and the Taliban's second and third tier leadership had been eliminated. The closed-door meeting of the standing committee -- presided over by Azra Fazal Puchecho -- was held to discuss the military operation in Malakand. Interior Secretary Kamal Shah briefed the committee members on the government's counter-terrorism policy. The committee has directed the Interior Ministry to issue a white paper on the details of the Swat operation and implications of the war on terror to assess the fallout of those policies. The chairwoman of the committee believes that the white paper would help review the future strategy for dealing with terrorism. Sources privy to the meeting said the interior secretary told the committee the military operation was "headed towards its logical end".

SIM used by Kasab was issued from Austria, says Kamal Shah
Interior Secretary Kamal Shah on Tuesday revealed that one of the mobile phone Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) allegedly recovered from the lone surviving gunman of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, Ajmal Kasab, was issued from Austria.

He told a group of reporters at the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) headquarters that NADRA record did not verify Kasab as a Pakistani citizen. He also expressed doubts over the authenticity of the letter reportedly written by Kasab to Pakistani authorities seeking legal assistance, saying the language and contents of the letter did not match those of a 'real' Pakistani.

"They (Indians) have simply tried to make up a story and they have even failed in that too," the interior secretary said. He said, "Why did the Indians not share the identity of the others accused in the attacks? They are talking just about Ajmal Kasab who was not even arrested from the crime scene." Shah said according to Indian authorities, the terrorists reached India from Pakistan through a boat on the very day they attacked Mumbai. He asked how a foreigner could manage a terrorist attack of that scale within hours. About security arrangements for the month of Muharram, Shah said instructions had been issued to the provinces. He said law enforcement agencies would remain on high alert during processions of Aashura.

Women's burial probe being covered up
Serious questions have now been raised over the possible outcome of the probe into the burying alive of five women in Balochistan.

Tariq Khosa, who was assigned to probe the gory incident, has been quietly stopped from going to Balochistan and made to sit in Islamabad, with a limited mandate to only monitor investigations. He would not be allowed to go and visit the scene of the crime.

An official said, ultimately the whole of Pakistan would be required to depend solely on the report of the Balochistan police, which, since the girls were buried some two months ago, has been making desperate attempts to cover up the issue by denying that it happened at all.

Serious questions about a possible cover-up are gaining currency because of the fact that the Balochistan government had maintained during the last two months that no such incident had taken place anywhere in the province.

The same police officers may now try to present their earlier lies as the truth in order to save face. A couple of days ago, Balochistan IG Asif Nawaz sent a report to Interior Secretary Kamal Shah in which he had claimed that no such incident had occurred at all.

A furious secretary had rejected this half-baked and bogus report and directed the IG to send another report based on facts. The second ill-prepared report too was rejected by Interior Adviser Rehman Malik on Monday in the Senate after terming it factually correct.

Now all of a sudden the same Balochistan cops have claimed to have arrested the killers and found the graves of the victims. IG Asif Nawaz has even attacked the English language media for giving a "sensational flavour" to the whole issue. The biased attitude of Asif Nawaz has led many to believe that the police would not conduct a fair investigation into the tragedy.

However, with mounting pressure from all sides, the lethargic Balochistan police bosses have suddenly become hyperactive and have started producing results. They not only claim to have arrested the accused, but the graves of the women have also been found. But the question which is not being answered is why the Balochistan police chief did not have such facts available to him two months earlier, and why he only moved to uncover the facts when the whole of Pakistan raised a hue and cry over this human tragedy.

Earlier, at the time of the appointment of Tariq Khosa as head of the investigation team, it was considered that his expertise would be more relevant to such a big probe, as he had served as the Balochistan IG and many thought that he would not let the real culprits off the hook if given a free hand to proceed.

The Interior ministry bosses are said to have informed Tariq Khosa that he would only be monitoring these investigations without visiting the scene of the crime, as under the police order 2002, the federal government cannot send its own officers for any probe into a province.

These legal complications may have become a big hurdle in the way of a fair and uncompromising probe into the tragedy as the appointment of Tariq Khosa was seen as a ray of hope for justice, as he is considered to be a cop who does not believe in pleasing the powerful and only follows his own conscience. Khosa had earned respect when he had conducted aggressive investigations into the Swiss visa scam which had finally led to closure of the embassy and transfer of all the diplomatic staff, including the ambassador, to their home country.

Talking to The News, Tariq Khosa confirmed that he would be monitoring these investigations from Islamabad. He said there was no ill-will involved, as under the law he could not go and probe the issue in the province. However, Khosa said he was keenly following developments taking place at the scene of the crime and had already set guidelines for those who were now probing these killings.

He said in his absence he had given the names of certain police officers in Balochistan, who would do full justice to these investigations. These honourable officers would not succumb to any pressure. He maintained that so far he is satisfied with the performance of the policemen now probing the tragedy.

Khosa said he had asked the officers to get the DNA of the women whose bodies were taken out of the graves and then get a report from the doctors whether they were buried alive or were first killed and then put into the grave.

Tariq Khosa said the real problem with the honour killings is that in such cases, the father, brother or other relatives of the accused get an FIR registered and then they withdraw it after a compromise. He said unless the state becomes a party to such killings and courts refuse to compromise the killers would not be stopped.

ISI back under PM control, says Rabbani
The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is working under the prime minister and the government had issued clarification about the July 26 notification, Leader of the House in Senate Raza Rabbani said on Monday. Rabbani said a detailed notification to reverse the earlier one was being worked out at Prime Minister's Secretariat.

However, Senate Deputy Chairman Jan Muhammad Jamali told reporters that senior ISI officials were reporting to Interior Secretary Kamal Shah. The government must withdraw the notification formally, Jamali added.

The PID issued a memorandum on July 26 stating that the country's two premier intelligence agencies -- the ISI and the IB -- had been placed under the Interior Division's control. The PPP-led government, however, 'clarified' the earlier notification the following day, saying the ISI would continue to operate at the prime minister's discretion

Jamali also condemned Afghan President Hamid Karzai's statement in which he threatened to strike inside Pakistan. Karzai was issuing statements at the behest of foreign powers, Jamali said.
"And those foreign powers are not Pakistain!"

Waziristan jirga gets Taliban commanders released on bail
A jirga of Zakhakhel and Qambarkhel elders and Taliban leaders from Waziristan succeeded in arranging the release of four detained Taliban commanders on bail, participants said.

The Taliban commanders from the South Waziristan Agency had been held for destroying tankers carrying oil for coalition troops in Afghanistan, and abducting their drivers.

In exchange, the Taliban commanders handed back 50,000 gallons of petrol and two oil tankers to complainants in Landi Kotal (Khyber Agency) and released two abducted drivers.

Sixty people were injured and 40 oil tankers burnt after two explosions near the Torkham border four weeks ago.

Javed Ibrahim Paracha, chairman of the World Prisoner’s Relief Commission of Pakistan, headed the jirga at his residence. He told Daily Times he had been directed by Interior Affairs Adviser Rehman Malik and Interior Secretary Kamal Shah to organise the jirga to resolve the issue peacefully.

He said the jirga consisted of Waziristan’s Taliban commanders Mir Qasim Janikhel and Ishaq Wazir, and Zakhakhel and Qambarkhel elders including Nasir Khan and Khyber Khan.

Paracha said the Zakhakhel and Qambarkhel tribes had charged the four Taliban commanders from the Janikhel tribe, including Khalid Rehman, for destroying the oil tankers and abducting the drivers.

He said Karak police had arrested the Taliban commanders a few weeks ago and charged them with terrorism. Paracha said the jirga had ruled that the Qambarkhel and Zakhakhel tribes would take back their testimony against the Taliban commanders in the anti-terrorism court of Kohat, to allow their release on bail.

Islamabad restaurant blast kills foreigner
A powerful bomb blast ripped through Italian restaurant Luna Caprese in Islamabad on Saturday, killing a Turkish woman and wounding about 15 other foreigners including US diplomats. “A foreigner was killed in the blast at the restaurant,” Islamabad police chief Shahid Nadeem Baluch told AFP. “We believe it’s a bomb, there is a crater and all such craters are created by explosives.” He told Daily Times that investigations were under way to determine the nature and motive of the blast.

Restaurant manager Shaukat told AFP that a group of about a dozen foreigners were eating in the garden at the back of the restaurant when the explosion happened, blowing human limbs into the air. “US embassy personnel were among those wounded,” US embassy spokeswoman Kay Mayfield told Reuters.

Federal Government Services Hospital officials said the injured included at least five Americans, a Japanese, a Canadian, a Briton and three Pakistanis. Senior official Dr Iftikhar said two of the three Pakistanis were in critical condition because of severe burn and pellet injures. The foreigners were out of danger, he added.

Foreign medical staff, apparently from the US embassy, rushed to the Federal Government Services Hospital to assist the doctors.

At least three of the injured, including a Japanese, were taken to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, officials said.

Interior Secretary Kamal Shah ruled out a suicide attack. He told reporters it was too early to say what device was used and what the motive was.

Sources close to the initial investigations into the explosion said it was apparently a hand grenade attack carried out by two people, who fled instantly.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Syed Kaleem Imam told Daily Times it someone might have thrown explosives into the restaurant from the adjacent alley, but said the cause of the explosion could only be known after the investigations were complete.

Doctors said the dead woman was Inder Baskar, who worked for a Turkish relief agency. The injured were identified as Earl Camp, Ray Pitesk, Bennet Bruce, Trish Gibbs and Rod Sneider from the US; Keith Pierce from the UK; Adan from Canada, Onaish and Motobo from Japan; and Masood, Zahid, Kamran Abbasi, Ajmal and Liaquat from Pakistan.

Rashid Rauf fled from mosque
A BRITON accused of plotting to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners escaped from a Pakistan mosque after police taking him to jail in a taxi stopped so he could say his prayers.
This may be the richest story we've seen come out of Pakistain yet, with the exception of the mysterious fire on the 16th floor of ISI headquarters in 2002 that destroyed all the terrorism records.
Police have revealed new details about the escape of Rashid Rauf following a court appearance in Islamabad on Saturday. The incident is a serious embarrassment for Pervez Musharraf's Government.
They don't feel egg on the face like we do. They just ignore it and go on, pretending it's not there. Eventually it erodes.
Police said at the weekend that Rauf had broken free from his guards and handcuffs as he was being escorted from court to a prison van.
One of those daring daylight escapes™, y'know? Kinda like Riaz Basra used to have, even the first time or two he was dead.
But a police official, speaking yesterday on condition of anonymity, said Rauf was being taken back to Adiala Jail - a high-security prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi - when he asked his guards to let him say afternoon prayers at a roadside mosque. "The policemen accepted his request," the official said. "Rashid Rasuf went inside the mosque with handcuffs on, but he slipped out from a rear door." The official said the two police officers had admitted they were waiting in a car outside the mosque as Rauf went inside and did not check on him for 20 minutes. They are under investigation over the escape.
Absolutely brilliant. We can picture it now: Rather than transporting Rashid from the calaboose to the courthouse in a paddy wagon, cuffed and leg-ironed, two policemen with enormous flat feet pop him in a taxi. When he wants to stop off and be devout, both of the coppers remain in the cab on their enormous behinds, whilst their high-profile prisoner saunters in the front door of the mosque wearing his cuffs and out the back.
Rauf's lawyer, Hashmat Habib, said yesterday that "in my opinion it is not escape, but a case of mysterious disappearance".
Doesn't sound that mysterious to me, and I never even finished law school.
He said that on occasions, his client had been brought from prison to court hearings in armoured vehicles - a claim that contrasts with newspaper reports yesterday that he was conveyed in a taxi and idly left to wander into a mosque to say his prayers.
Y'see, he was only conveyed in armored vehicles when he wasn't set up to escape, with no doubt an evil minion waiting inside the mosque with a change of clothes and a fresh turban for him, and a getaway rickshaw parked at the back door with its 2-cycle motor running.
Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz had assured British Ambassador Robert Brinkely that the suspect's capture was a "priority", British High Commission spokeswoman Laura Davies said yesterday.
Right. And stretching Omar Saeed Sheikh's neck is a priority, too.
Interior Secretary Kamal Shah said security teams were searching the country and would report back within three days.
"Duh! We asked around an' everything, boss! Nobody's seen 'im!"
Rauf, who is of Pakistani origin, was arrested in Pakistan in August last year on a tip-off from British investigators.
He wasn't extradited, though.
Pakistan described him as a key suspect in a purported al-Qaeda plot to blow up passenger planes flying from Britain to the US, prompting a major security alert at airports worldwide and increased restrictions on carry-on items.
Not that plotting to blow up passenger planes flying from Britain to the US is against the law in Pakistain, mind you...
He was charged with possessing chemicals that could be used in making explosives and with carrying forged travel documents.
The former is mildly against the law, but not extraditable, whilst the second is common enough to cause consternation when the documents aren't forged.
Rauf denied involvement in the plot and prosecutors later withdrew the case against him, though he remained in jail awaiting a decision on a British extradition request.

Call Rashid Rauf "Mint Jelly "...Because he's on the Lamb
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Rashid Rauf, a British suspect in an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic jetliners, escaped from police custody in Pakistan on Saturday, officials said.

Rauf escaped after appearing before a judge at a court in the capital, Islamabad, said Khalid Pervez, a city police official. Two policemen were being questioned about how Rauf had gotten away.
'Questioned'? I don't think there's any question as to how they got away, do you?
Federal Interior Secretary Kamal Shah said he had been informed of the escape, but said he had no details.
He can say no more.


Suicide attack on police claims 14: 'Taliban' back at Lal Masjid
A suspected suicide bomber killed at least 14 people including seven policemen and injured more than 50 others on Friday at a hotel near the Lal Masjid, after baton-wielding students of Jamia Fareedia madrassa and congregation members loyal to the slain Abdul Rashid Ghazi and former prayer leader Maulana Abdul Aziz occupied the mosque briefly and demanded Aziz’s return.
Whoa! Wotta surprise! I mean, whoever expected something like that to happen?
Aziz’s supporters stopped the government-appointed prayer leader Maulana Ashfaq Ahmed from leading the Friday prayer at Lal Masjid after the mosque was reopened to the public after three weeks. They demanded that authorities bring Maulana Aziz to Lal Masjid to lead the prayers. Maulana Ashfaq then left for his home in police security.
"I am, like, outta here!"
"We'll go witcha, maulana. Just to make sure you get home okay."
Maulana Atiqur Rehman, a teacher at Jamia Fareedia, then led the prayer at Lal Masjid.
"And now, brethren and sistren, join me in our simple prayer: 'Gawd, please kill them all! Make them suffer! Make their children suffer! Visit them with boils!...'"
Before and after the prayer, the people shouted anti-government slogans and vowed that they would avenge the killings of all those who had been killed in the Lal Masjid operation. The students and the congregation members then came on the streets. Some of them reached the mosque’s roof and hoisted black flags there and on the minarets. Some started splashing red paint onto the walls to restore the mosque’s namesake colour after the government restoration left it pale yellow. The violent mob then started throwing stones at armoured personnel carriers. The violence, which later spread to Aabpara and Melody Chowk, forced the policemen to teargas the mob.
"Chowdry, the students are revolting!"
"Aren't they, though?"
"Have we any teargas?"
"That won't make them smell any better, sir."
The protesters then reentered the mosque’s premises.
"Hrarrr! Back to the mosque premises!"
As the hide and seek between the protesters and policemen continued in the Lal Masjid surrounding areas, an explosion took place in front of Muzaffargarh Nihari House at Aabpara Chowk.
Eyewitnesses said that seven people, including the suspected bomber, died instantly while six critically injured people died at the hospital. Naseer, owner of the restaurant, told Daily Times that a young man came in front of his restaurant and shouted Allah-ho-Akbar before blowing himself up. Interior Secretary Kamal Shah linked the attack with the Lal Masjid situation. The police claimed that it had found the body parts of the bomber including his head.
"Over here! What's this?"
"Looks like a spleen with a turban. And a moustache!"
Interior Ministry spokesman Brig (r) Javed Cheema said the government had closed Lal Masjid for an indefinite period after the violence in the mosque and suicide attack at Aabpara Market.
Brilliant. Much more brilliant than the original plan. Not as brilliant as demolishing it and sowing the ground with salt.
After the bombing, police retook control of Lal Masjid, Islamabad SSP Zafar Iqbal said. Some protesters resisted and about 50 people were arrested, AFP adds.
And they'll be back walking the streets tomorrow or the day after, which is why it'll happen again.

Jamia Hafsa used as fortified compound, says Aftab Sherpao
Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said on Thursday Jamia Hafsa had been used as an armoured compound for terrorist activities, according to reports by various agencies.

The minister, along with Interior Secretary Kamal Shah, visited Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid and reviewed different parts of the building. Security officials informed Sherpao about the cleanup operations in which the compound was cleared of weapons. Sherpao said two suicide belts carrying the fingerprints of Abdul Rashid Ghazi had been recovered. The minister said foreign militants had been using the madrassa.

Sherpao said the government was considering razing Jamia Hafsa if structural experts deemed it unsalvageable. Lal Masjid was not heavily damaged and it will be repaired after consultation with architects, he added. He said that no operation was planned against any other madrassa.

Meanwhile, a private TV channel reported that security forces seized several important documents and computers from the Jamia Hafsa compound and found the bodies of four students, including two women.

Irfan Ghauri adds: Authorities on Thursday arranged a visit of media persons to the Lal Masjid complex where the visiting journalists saw the weapons used by the militants and the badly damaged Jamia Hafsa.

The visit that was arranged after the culmination of the operation to sweep the building of unexploded ordnance could not clear up the ambiguity regarding the death toll.

The weapons put on display included hand grenades, seven machine guns, 20 kalashnikov rifles, sten guns, RPGs, improvised rockets, anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, improvised explosive devices, pistols, hundreds of bullets, gas masks, two suicide jackets and some wireless sets. The authorities also displayed CDs with titles of jihadi poems and literature, speeches of Abdul Aziz and nine Pakistani passports. The other room the media were led to contained discarded computer monitors and recording equipment that the authorities claimed was “communication equipment”.

The pungent odour of decomposed bodies surrounded the compound, whose three-storey building had no room without bullet-riddled walls and roofs. Some of the rooms and libraries were partially burnt, but the books placed on the stools and racks were completely undamaged.

ISPR DG Maj Gen Waheed Arshad said the security forces had not found any tunnel in the mosque complex. He said that no foreign militant had yet been identified from among the bodies found from the complex and from those captured during the operation.

Arshad said that no woman had been killed in the operation and the security forces had not found any mass grave in the compound. Arshad said that 75 bodies had been recovered from the complex. “Out of these 19 bodies are beyond recognition and they could be anybody, any gender, any age.” Meanwhile, officials said the body of Abdul Aziz’s son Hasaam had been identified.

Lal Masjid militants grimace, roll eyes, stand defiant
* 17 more surrender, two killed in crossfire as siege continues
* Ghazi, supporters sign wills

ISLAMABAD: Two heavy blasts and gunfire rocked the Lal Masjid on Friday evening, as a dense cloud of smoke rose over the building in the latest clashes. Abdul Rashid Ghazi, deputy prayer leader of Lal Masjid, and his supporters said that they would prefer death to arrest after the government called for an unconditional surrender.

Security forces fired several teargas shells at Lal Masjid that also troubled inhabitants of the areas around the mosque. There were unconfirmed reports of many casualties inside the mosque. The security forces continued their strong buildup, but exercised maximum restraint in launching the final assault despite capturing strategic positions on Thursday evening. The restraint is being exercised to secure the release of maximum students, especially females, to avoid massive causalities in case of an operation, authorities said.

Security forces kept announcing safe passage for surrendering students throughout the day and the number of students who have evacuated the mosque premises reached 1,221 – 795 male and 426 female students – on Friday night. The officials put the number of those killed in the operation at 19 and the injured at 98.

Addressing reporters, Interior Secretary Kamal Shah repeated the government’s demand that Ghazi and his companions surrender unconditionally. Shah requested religious parties to come forward and play role in resolving the standoff.

The security forces relaxed curfew for three hours between 12:30pm to 3:30pm in Sector G-6 so that the residents could purchase daily use items. Earlier in the day, Ghazi and his ‘400 followers’ wrote wills. Ghazi’s special assistant Abdul Qayyum told Daily Times on telephone that besides a collective will, all students had written individual wills which would be placed on the mosque’s rostrum. In the collective will the students have demanded burial inside the mosque’s courtyard if they are killed in the operation. Jamia Hafsa Principal Umme Hassan, wife of Maulana Abdul Aziz, claimed that more than 80 bodies – 50 men and 30 women – were lying in the compounds of the mosque and the madrassa.

Agencies add: Two students of Jamia Hafsa, who were surrendering to the authorities, were killed in crossfire between security forces and the madrassa militants. Also, 17 students including five females surrendered to security forces. Separately, a meeting chaired by Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao discussed law and order situation arising out of the Lal Masjid operation, Online reported. Fire broke out at Jamia Hafsa at around 1:30 am Saturday after a mortar shell was fired, Geo TV reported.

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